Visual Arts Review | Thru Dec. 13 You know what they say about the best laid plans; Shawn Miller, along with his wife, Tammy, had planned exhibits this season at 4 Star Gallery that - for one reason or another - did not get exhibited. But Miller made the best of it, and the current group show, paintings by three venerable artists in the city, of varying degrees of name recognition - Ralph Domanico, Matthew Davey and Steve Paddack - is a fine display of work by artists whose work is rock solid.

Steve Paddack"s "Gift in the Clearing" is part of an exhibit at 4 Star Gallery that also includes Matthew Davey and Ralph Domanico.

Domanico relocated here a few years ago from the Chicago area. On first glance, his work is in good company with Indy veterans Paddack and Davey. His medium- to large-sized paintings could summarily be described as abstract, with random details of the primitive, hieroglyphic variety. Employing a background palette of a relative uniform color - applied in multiple layers, giving each painting welcome depth - Domanico adds faint forms such as vessels (containers of liquid as opposed to the seafaring kind), symbols such as the letter "x" in a series or, perhaps, a wheel-form. These images are either painted beneath the layer of color or laid down on top of it, and then covered lightly with a hazy wash. Either way, they are ephemeral, and lend a feathery air to the work. Matthew Davey, who is known for his near-perfect figurative bronzes - at once sensual and agonized by passion"s pain in tension with its pleasure - offers two-dimensional work only. One can see the inspiration for his brilliant bronzes in his sensitive drawings of a woman reclining. This is not a sensual piece in the traditional sense, yet Davey"s facility for interpreting the human form and its bodily expression is subtle, accurate and full of feeling. In a slight departure for the artist - at least in terms of what he has previously exhibited - his small abstract landscape "Ode" is a lovely piece that possesses the same emotional power as his figurative work. The pre- or post-storm sky, in a multitude of moody grays, hovers over a textured horizon, which is land, sea or perhaps a bit of both. Finally, Steve Paddack, another of the city"s veteran artists, has contributed six small paintings. In years past, I have seen the artist span the size spectrum from super-sized canvases that fill a wall to the diminutive, yet equally complex, canvases of the variety seen here. Paddack"s work is hyper-realistic and surrealistic. In "Threshold," two pine trees are unmistakable and so real, and yet their perch on a snow-covered ledge can"t be real. In "Great Lake Spirit," a shoreline is viewed through a tiny cove; on one side is a fiery red bush (the burning bush?), and on the other, a darkened treeform. One of these - or perhaps some other unseen lifeform - has cast a great shadow above the lake. All of this is perfectly painted in oils, the colors brilliant and the lines precise. The show is nicely balanced between hard and soft, real and surreal; strangely, the spontaneity of being put together at the eleventh hour makes it seem all the stronger. Perspectives, a group show of new works by Matt Davey, Ralph Domanico and Steve Paddack, is on view at 4 Star Gallery, 653 Massachusetts Ave., through Dec. 13. Call 686-6382 or visit

www.4stargallery.com

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